On May 17, His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, at the Tenth Parliamentary Conference addressed the Russian legislators with a half an hour long speech, covering a wide range of issues, from history to the present day. We offer you a full transcript of his speech (below), or please watch it in video with captions in the language of your choice.
Dear Valentina Ivanovna! Dear participants in this important meeting, so necessary for the dialogue between the Church and the state! I would like to warmly welcome all of you and again and again emphasize the importance of a direct dialogue between representatives of the Church with our political world, with representatives of the intelligentsia, with representatives of the people.
Valentina Ivanovna, I probably overdid it - I immediately apologize. Somehow this topic captured me, and I wrote, wrote, wrote . . . Then I looked, I think: no, half should be deleted, but somehow it became a pity. So it turns out that I, probably, will not meet the time that is supposed to be according to the regulations. Therefore, if it when it is the time to stop reading the text I have prepared, please stop me.
(V.I. Matvienko: Your Holiness! There are no regulations for you!)
Thank you very much. Then allow me, dear participants of the Parliamentary Conference, to cordially greet all of you, and I would like to say once again that we highly appreciate this opportunity for a direct dialogue between the Patriarch and representatives of our political world, our public.
The topic that underlies our reflections today is the 350th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Peter I. And the theme of the International Educational Forum is also connected with this anniversary, and I would like to say a few words about the personality of this outstanding Russian ruler and his significance for national culture and history.
The time of Peter the Great is considered to be the beginning of a secular experiment in Russia — transformations that resulted in the introduction into the life of our people of a division into church and secular, religious and secular. With the direct subordination of the Church to the state administration, in a sense, a completely alien and unconventional model of relations for our people was adopted, which, however, was then considered “the most progressive”.
But, as some scholars rightly point out, the sharp ideological turn made by Emperor Peter I in relations between the Church and the state had consequences not only for church-state relations, but in a sense led to the division of society, and as a result - to revolutionary events. Many believe that it was at that time that the prerequisites for the events of 1917 were born, which marked the beginning of the persecution of faith and the denial of religion as such.
At the same time, it is important to notice that the activities of Peter I also marked a new era in Russia's relations with Europe. In the 18th century, Russia opened up to the West, which became for us a source of knowledge, an example for transformations in the life of society. Thousands of foreigners have come to our country, which has become a second home for many of them.
At that time, this cultural communication was built largely taking into account common Christian values. However, in modern times in the West appeared and then became widespread, in my opinion, dangerous ideas based on the denial of the Christian heritage and on the acceptance of moral relativism as a kind of principle on which relations between people should be built. Unfortunately, over the past centuries, these ideas have only intensified and led to the fact that the European society began to revise the fundamental Christian values, which led to the establishment of arrogance and pride, to the destruction of trust between countries and peoples.
And today Russia does not close the “window to Europe” once opened by Peter, and does not isolate itself, but this window remains open only for mutually respectful dialogue, and not ideological dictate and bossy shouts from outside. Participation in this dialogue should not injure our self-consciousness and deprive us of legitimate pride in our country, in our history, in our culture.
Now a few words about the epidemic. We are called upon to counter new threats and challenges with social solidarity and the ability to act together. COVID infection has become a kind of strength test for us. I believe that the Russian approach to resolving the issue of introducing epidemic restrictions was sufficiently balanced and made it possible to preserve the possibility for the normal public life and economy.
The Church is grateful to the authorities for the dialogue and support for the socially significant initiatives that are in demand. The centers for helping the homeless and the needy, created by the Church, have been working at the limit of their capabilities for many months, providing assistance to a large number of people. I am sure that the experience we have accumulated in this difficult time will be important for further joint actions of the state, society, religious communities in the social sphere.
Now a few words about Ukraine. It is impossible to talk about the situation in Ukraine, and even more so to give it any assessment, outside the historical context. As you remember from national history, in the XII-XV centuries. our country existed in the form of many disparate principalities - fragments of a once united and strong state.
Under those conditions, the Church remained the main force holding the nation from ultimate disintegration. Our Church countered the tendencies of chaos and conflict in Ancient Russia with the ideal of a life together based on love, brotherhood, peace and mutual trust. This principle in the XIV century. was proclaimed by St. Sergius of Radonezh, who called on his compatriots "by looking at the Holy Trinity to overcome the despised strife of this world." The monk made a huge personal contribution to overcoming the disunity between the principalities, realizing that the continuation of civil strife would call into question the very future of our people, destroy its spiritual and cultural unity.
It is no secret that over the past few centuries, divisions among the peoples of historical Russia have been artificially provoked, including from outside. In this regard, a landmark event was the conclusion of the so-called “Church union” of Brest in 1596, an agreement according to which part of the clergy of the Orthodox Metropolia of Kiev joined the Roman Catholic Church.
This act, aimed at destroying Orthodox unity, solved a very specific political problem for the Western powers. During the Time of Troubles, civil confrontation brought the Orthodox Cossacks of Ukraine under the colors of the Polish invaders.
This historical precedent of the division of the peoples of Russia, alas, was not the only one. It is worth remembering the betrayal of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, who, during the Northern War between Russia and Sweden, went over to the side of the Swedish King Charles XII.
The majority of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians have always perceived Mazepa precisely as a traitor to Russia, and not as a personal enemy of Peter I. Unfortunately, in recent years, Hetman Mazepa has been consciously exonerated in Ukraine, many historical facts have undergone a radical reassessment, and if you call a spade a spade, — were distorted or completely forgotten.
The revolutionary events of 1917 and the ensuing civil war in Russia were in no small measure the result of the expansion of Western teachings about a new structure of social and political life. This is a vivid example of the fact that even the most seemingly attractive ideas that come from outside cannot be treated uncritically. "Equality, fraternity, liberty" turned people's heads.
And Berdyaev wrote wonderfully, simply destroying this very idea of "equality, fraternity, liberty." According to him, where there is liberty, there can be no equality. Equality is on the lawn, which is mowed, but there is no freedom. And the meadow at the edge of the forest is the realm of liberty, but there is no equality there.
These wonderful words led to a very important rethinking of the revolutionary events - first of all, among our diaspora, and then in our country. During the Great Patriotic War, the peoples of our country united in the face of a common threat. The waning of the anti-Church persecution enabled the survival of the nation, based upon the faith engrained in the hearts of the people. For modern Russia, the memory of wars, and especially of the last major global conflict - the Great Patriotic War - is truly priceless and helps to realize the undeniable significance of unity.
The tragedy of the Great Patriotic War, which claimed the lives of 27 million of our brothers and sisters, of which 18 million were civilians, must never be forgotten by the peoples of historical Russia. That is why any attempts to justify not only the inhuman Nazi ideology itself, but also all its supporters and accomplices is totally unacceptable .
Such attempts can only cause deep moral rejection and justified indignation. Attempts to exonerate, in particular in Ukraine, those who were associated with the German Nazis, to perpetuate their memory - all this is a sign of contempt for the victims of the Great Patriotic War, including the victims suffered by the Ukrainian people.
The collapse of the USSR and the emergence of national states inevitably raised the question of the relationship of fraternal peoples in the new historical realities. Deep folk ties that have developed at the level of kinship relations, joint activities, centuries-old history, and most importantly - a common faith, culture and language - have led to the preservation of Church unity, stretching over new state borders.
The Church respects the borders and sovereignty of states, but for her political divisions are of secondary importance, the main thing is spiritual unity, good neighborliness and mutual understanding between people.
Now a few words about the divisions that began in 2014. The fratricidal division that began in Ukraine in 2014 is experienced by the Church as a tragedy. I would like to remind you that from the very beginning of the conflict, the Church in Ukraine and Russia has been unceasingly offering prayers for peace and invariably calling people to overcome divisions.
Throughout the eight years of armed confrontation, the Church organized many charity events in support of those who found themselves in trouble, lost their homes and were forced to flee from military clashes. As you know, with the mediation of the Church, the exchange of prisoners of war took place more than once.
I remember how difficult it was to organize the first such exchange. There were fears on both sides, but by the grace of God, it was the participation of the Church in this exchange, the initiative that came from the Church, that helped to remove those fears, suspicions, tensions that accompanied this action, unprecedented for that time.
I am convinced that the alienation of the peoples of historical Russia, which has come down to a bloody conflict, as before in history, is the result of the intervention of external hostile political forces.
It is well known that the colonial powers, guided by the principle of "divide and conquer", also created points of military tension and internecine conflicts in other regions of the globe. Today, this shameful rule, unfortunately, is also used to escalate Russian-Ukrainian hostility. Yes, quarrels also happen between siblings, but it turned out to be possible to bring it to fratricide through targeted propaganda of aggression and lies.
I said earlier that the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, who emerged from the common Kiev Baptismal font, are united by the Orthodox faith and bound by a common historical destiny, cannot be considered the culprits of this situation. They do not and cannot have an interest in the conflict. Our flock is both in Russia and in Ukraine, and we fervently pray for the restoration of peace, for the Lord to overthrow the plans of an evil external force that feeds hatred.
One cannot but say that the schism of Ukrainian Orthodoxy is yet another link in this vicious chain of alienation. The actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which legalized the schism, are worthy of historical comparison with Uniatism. The ultimate goal of this project is the reorientation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in such a way that it can no longer serve the unity of the fraternal Russian and Ukrainian peoples.
The political goal of creating all these autocephalies, all these schismatic associations is to weaken the influence of the Orthodox Church, the one Orthodox Church of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, using ideological clichés to incite enmity and create new myths that would alienate one people from another.
Yes, warfare really accompanied the entire history of mankind after the Fall. As one of the sad manifestations of sinfulness, in all likelihood, warfare will accompany human history in the future as well. However, even in situations of armed conflict, a person can and should preserve his dignity and care for the dignity of others.
Elimination of prohibited methods of warfare, protection of the civilian population, observance of international humanitarian law, respect for the prisoners and the wounded - this is what I, as the Patriarch of All Russia, call on the belligerents and ask them to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.
I am convinced that the right lessons should be drawn from what is happening in Ukraine, giving an assessment of the experiment that was carried out on the Ukrainian people after the collapse of the USSR.
The tragedy that has happened again forces the Church to raise its voice in the name of protecting national languages and culture. No one in the world should be disadvantaged just because he speaks or thinks in "the wrong" language. From the lips of certain politicians and in the media, there are often calls for widespread infringement of the rights of the Russian-speaking population living in the former Soviet republics, now independent states.
The so-called "abolition of Russian culture" in the West has become evidence of the sad moral state of society. An attempt to eradicate the culture of a particular nation is the apogee of hatred. Worse than that is only an attempt to physically destroy the people who have become objectionable.
Our society felt an affinity with European culture even in the difficult times of the Cold War and the clash of ideologies. Western classical literature, music and painting have always been highly valued by our compatriots who perceive European culture as an integral part of the rich Christian civilizational heritage.
So we continue to perceive it now, despite everything that happens. I hope that those who are now “fighting” with Pushkin and Dostoevsky, who are boycotting Tchaikovsky competitions and refusing to perform Rachmaninov, will sooner or later come to realize the shamefulness and madness of their actions.
But I would still like to talk about the future, and say it with hope. Despite the fact that hostilities are not over yet, today it is necessary to work for the restoration of peaceful life in Ukraine and Donbass. I am confident that our prayers will be heard and a long-awaited and lasting peace will be attained to. I have no doubt that Russia will make the necessary efforts to create this peaceful life, in which the main principle will be the preservation of unity among peoples based on mutual understanding.
Civilizational and value differences between Western countries and Russia are inevitable and at the moment seem difficult to overcome, but they should not be an obstacle to peaceful coexistence, to an equal and mutually respectful dialogue of cultures.
I would like to share with you my thoughts on what conclusions could be drawn from the current situation. I think we are called to a deep rethinking of the vector of social and state development of the last decades. It is important to focus not on what some external observer thinks about our further development, but on how to build the future of the country based on our historical experience, national and spiritual culture, our Christian heritage.
We do not need isolation from the outside world, but we need a renewed understanding of sovereignty. Sovereignty not only political, but also cultural; sovereignty that would extend to many areas - from economics to law.
We are turning the page of our national history, this is a fact, and we need great creative forces to build our state and society on new historical foundations and in new historical conditions. Glossy ideology and mass culture aimed at satisfaction of passions should forever remain in the past.
Let me make a suggestion: isn't it time for Russian legislators to make special efforts for a new - without regard to anyone but the Russian people - view of the legal regulation of our life? In the current situation in world politics, the preservation of traditional values is called upon to become the strategic course of the Russian Federation.
Speaking last year in the State Duma within the framework of Parliamentary Conference, I emphasized that the amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation contain the potential for resolving issues of preserving our nation. This task requires great intellectual efforts and the cohesion of our entire society.
I believe that, first of all, we need to be more active and consistent in supporting the institution of the family and protecting family values. I also had to talk about this many times on different platforms. By linking different generations and passing on cultural experience from older to younger, the family plays a key role in shaping society and building a social structure.
Today, under the influence of new social technologies and gender ideologies, the institution of the family is under great pressure, which starts a dangerous process of its destruction. Some politicians, especially abroad, following the fashion and, perhaps, not always fully realizing the responsibility for the decisions they make, are ready to make changes to the legislation contrary to the eternal moral standards and the traditional social order.
Thus, a time bomb is laid in the national demographic policy. In our country, which maintains a connection with a centuries-old cultural tradition that has deep religious roots, fortunately, this problem is not as pronounced as in a number of Western countries. However, some phenomena and innovations introduced in accordance with the spirit of the times cause concern in our society.
One example is the export abroad by foreign citizens of children born via surrogate motherhood technologies. The Russian Orthodox Church, the parent community, and a number of public organizations are highly concerned about the delay in putting a ban on this practice.
We need to create all the necessary conditions for the preservation and revival of traditional family values, we are constantly talking about this. Why? - Because today, for the most part, mass culture does not support these values. Take the content of the films - all these endless intrigues in families, all this parallel life is presented so vividly in the cinema, and all this forms an idea of a supposedly normal model of human behavior.
I am far from calling on everyone to change their lifestyle from today, but I would like to urge everyone to think about the fact that the family and family relations are an undoubted, real spiritual bond of the whole people. After all, if the family is destroyed, then both society and the state are weakened.
I would like to say that the family continues to need protection at the legislative level from unreasonable and unlawful interference in family life, including under the pretext of protecting the rights of children. Families often meet with the administrative arbitrariness of guardianship and guardianship authorities. At the same time, the responsibility of officials for the damage caused to the family is not established by law.
It is not the first year that we have been talking within these walls about the need to adopt a special law regarding the status of large families. But the demographic situation is truly dangerous. A little more - and families with many children deprived of comprehensive support will not be able to reverse the situation of falling birth rates, and it will be too late to pass the law. I propose to develop such a bill as soon as possible, involving the parent community, as well as the traditional religions of Russia.
The Church invariably testifies to the importance and value of life given to man by the Creator. Recently, the state pays serious attention to the prevention of abortion. Here, a whole range of measures is needed - restrictive, organizational, as well as supporting motherhood and encouraging fertility. The proposals that are now being made by legislators are important, in particular, to stop abortions in private clinics, which will make statistics more accurate, and there will be no incentive to pursue profit by destroying children's lives.
One can only welcome the new social forms aimed at stimulating the birth rate and support in the form of monthly payments to women receiving pre-natal care. But, unfortunately, a very small number of women receive such support, among them only the unemployed and unmarried. I propose to study the possibility of extending the issuance of benefits, if not to all women, then to a much wider range of people - primarily women who are carrying a child, who receive pre-natal care, until their children reach the age of a year and a half. For many women, this can be a major factor in their decision to save their lives and not have an abortion.
Let me remind you that the Russian Civil Code protects the right of the unborn heir. The existing norms, it seems, may well be edited in such a way that the life of a child, a future member of our society, is protected by law from the moment of birth. Surprisingly, the right of inheritance is protected, but the child's right to life is not protected. Where do we get this from - from what culture, from what tradition?
I urge legislators to take a bolder approach to the issue of protecting life, not paying attention to opinions that frighten us with the alleged growth of illegal operations. Any illegal actions must receive an appropriate response. I hope that our law enforcement agencies will make sure that health issues remain the exclusive responsibility of the professional medical community rather than businessmen.
I want to emphasize again: positioning abortion as a free medical service financed from the state budget, that is, from tax deductions from citizens, remains a big moral problem in our society, which is suffering not only spiritual damage, but also experiencing a demographic crisis.
And I would like to ask: does not the epidemic, the death of millions of people, including from many accidents? Really teach us to treat human life more carefully?
The image of a traditional family as a fundamental value must begin from the school bench, consistently introducing a moral dimension into the educational process. It seems important to develop a unified program of moral education, as well introducing positions of rates Deputy Principals responsible for moral education in Public Schools.
This initiative, however, should not turn into a bureaucratic routine and formalism, should not cause rejection and resistance on the part of the students.
Once again, I would like to emphasize that the study of the foundations of religious cultures and secular ethics is of the utmost educational importance - a course that also helps to present to students traditional cultural and family values.
We continue to consider the inclusion of a traditional essay in the Unified State Examination as a serious achievement, which allows graduates to focus on revealing their creative abilities in preparation for the exam.
It is impossible not to welcome the decision to use in Russian schools the state information system "My School" of the so-called "white Internet" - a safe digital environment for our schoolchildren. As far as I know, the Ministry is now doing a lot of work in this direction, in the My School system there will be only verified content and a verified context, including lectures, educational films, and other information, educational and educational materials. This will protect children from the risks of using resources that have a devastating effect on their psyche. I see the current mission of legislators in the consistent return of the moral dimension to the sphere of legal regulation.
The necessary basis for this has already been created by amending the Constitution of our nation. Today, more and more people talk about the implementation of the constitutional provision on the social orientation of our state. I am sure that the discussion about social justice should be embodied in practical decisions of legislators. I mean the promotion of socially responsible business, the reduction or complete elimination of taxes for the poor, the fair distribution of resources, and much more.
I hope that in the course of further expert discussions, in which the Church will also take an active part, we, acting together, will be able to adequately respond to the challenges that our country is facing today.
Dear legislators, participants of this meeting! The Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional religions of Russia have high hopes for you, because your efforts, your professionalism and responsibility largely determine which country we will live in in the near future. I ask you to support the current practice aimed at strengthening and developing a direct dialogue between the authorities and citizens on all burning issues.
Once again I testify that the Church is invariably ready for such a dialogue and fruitful interaction. I call upon you and your labors God's blessing. I wish everyone health, strength and prosperity, and for our Motherland - peace, tranquility, prosperity and the development of all the powerful potential of our people, which would contribute to the security of the country and the true well-being of the citizens of Russia.
Thank you for your attention.